Taking learning outside with outdoor classrooms

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Students who are cooped up in a classroom all day may not be the most attentive.

They sit behind a desk, in climate controlled buildings while watching their teacher write on a board or read from a book, but what they really want to do it get outside in the sun and fresh air.

Why not combine the best of both worlds? Bring the classroom outside.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

That’s what is being achieved at Nicholson Elementary. With some help from a hardware store, and several locally owned businesses, Nicholson Elementary now has an outside reading area, place to put on plays and presentations and picnic tables that can serve as an outdoor classroom powered by sunlight.

Research has shown that children benefit from outdoor learning in several ways.

According to outdoorclassroomproject.org, children who have access to outdoor classrooms will see an increase in physical development, and have a lessened risk of obesity.

Many parents won’t need research statistics to agree that children who go outside to learn are happier, provided the weather is suitable. But that research shows that schools with outdoor classrooms help children develop greater self-esteem and the practice leads to a better classroom harmony.

Outside of having to work to keep their students in their chairs, teachers may also find that by bringing their instruction outside, they can keep their student’s interest longer, especially if the subject matter relates to the surroundings.

For instance, an instruction about trees and how they grow would be better suited for an outside classroom, as opposed to a slide show indoors.

Or, children would have more fun collecting insects outside, instead of seeing them on a computer screen.

We commend the school’s staff and District administration for applying for, and approving, the work that has been done so far. We hope that this project is so successful that outdoor classrooms are implemented in every school within Pearl River County.